PH, US renew defense talks
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and the United States (US) resumed talks Thursday on the enhanced defense cooperation agreement, part of which involves the increased rotational presence of US troops in the country.
Both panels will meet for two days in the Philippines for the eighth round of negotiations since it began August of 2013.
Defense Undersecretary and Chair of the Philippine Negotiating Panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said in a statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the negotiations seek to “further strengthen and reinvigorate the security partnership of the two treaty allies.”
A government official said in a report that both panels are hoping for the negotiations to be concluded before US President Barack Obama visits the country in late April.
The agreement is widely regarded as a response to China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Batino said that humanitarian assistance and disaster response are key components of the negotiations aside from the improvements in defense capabilities.
“Calamities such as typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan as well as the ongoing search for the Malaysian Airlines plane underscore that friendly armed forces are in a unique and crucial position to provide timely responses in these events,” Batino said.
“Both the Philippines and the US recognize this added key dimension to this updated framework of defense cooperation and we are working together for the realization of the full potentials of closer partnership in ensuring timely and adequate humanitarian assistance and disaster relief responses,” he said.
Batino also highlighted other significant benefits from the agreement under negotiations, notably critical and timely support to the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and achievement of the country’s minimum credible defense posture.
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